Athens County Child Abuse Declines But More Severe

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The director of Athens County Children Services says child abuse has decreased in the past year, but has become more severe.

"Family issues are more serious, more serious domestic violence. Drugs have impacted children dramatically in the number of children born drug exposed as well as children being exposed, you know, older children being exposed in the home," said Andrea Reik.

In nearby Hocking County, a mother allegedly injected her adolescent children with heroine, raising questions about why these incidents are occurring.

Reik said the economy has had a significant impact on the severity of the abuse. She said more broken families are being forced to live under the same roof, increasing the amount of violence a child is exposed to.

She added that the key to stopping these incidents is though prevention programs such as Choose Your Partner Carefully, a program that seeks to increase awareness among women of the risk their children face when a non-related male is entrusted with their care.

"There's a higher percentage of boyfriend and girlfriends assaulting, physically abusing their girlfriend or boyfriend's child," said Reik. "People need to think about not only who they are dating, but [whether or not] it is safe to leave your child with them."

Last year Children Services worked with about 80 Athens County families who were affected by child abuse and received a little more than 1200 referrals.